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Investigation continues into Northfield fires



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The charred remains of a brick home on Granite Street in Northfield are being examined by the State Fire Marshall’s Office out of Concord as they search for the source of a two alarm fire which left owner Ronald Martin and a second unnamed occupant homeless last Thursday evening. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
February 29, 2012
NORTHFIELD — At 8:19 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 23, Tilton-Northfield Fire and EMS responded to their second residential structure fire in Northfield in the past two weeks, this time at 43 Granite St., just up the road from a fatal fire which broke out in the early morning hours of Feb. 10.

Chief Brad Ober said his department quickly responded to the fire, which was first spotted by neighbors. As crews raced to the scene, Tilton-Northfield Engine 3 received reports of multiple calls coming in to 911, all reporting a large volume of fire. Capt. Timothy Ames, among the first responders, requested a first-alarm for additional assistance as he was en route to the scene. Initial reports also indicated two occupants of the home were unaccounted for by neighbors and might possibly still be inside the building.

"The right side of the house had fire already coming through windows on the first and second floors when we arrived," said Ober.

Ames then called for a second alarm, bringing additional assistance from Laconia, Franklin, Gilford, Belmont, Sanbornton, and from as far away as Concord.

The residence, a mostly brick two story cape-style older home, contained flames so intense that two fire fighters attempting entry to search for occupants were quickly forced back outside.

"The staircase to the second floor was already gone, and we couldn't risk going inside at that point," the chief said.

After 45 minutes on scene, Ober said he received word from Northfield Police that the owner, Ronald Martin, along with an unidentified second resident, had been located and were safe at the time of the fire.

Ober reported that due to the volume of fire and damage to the interior of the building, a defensive attack was ordered. Firefighters used hand lines and master stream appliances to extinguish the flames while Franklin's ladder truck assisted with overhaul operations of the roof and attic areas.

Firefighters were able to prevent the flames from spreading to a nearby building containing vehicles and antiques, and the fire was brought under control by 10:23 p.m..

Ober said the department was also assisted throughout the night by members of the Northfield Public Works Department, as well as Public Service, Lakes Region Mutual Aid, and Northfield and Tilton police.

Crews remained on the scene until 1:15 a.m. Friday morning, with a few firefighters remaining overnight to secure the scene until daylight.

The State Fire Marshall's office arrived later that morning to begin their investigation into the cause of the blaze, but details of their findings were not finalized by press time.

Two weeks ago, in the early morning hours of Feb. 10, TNFD and EMS, along with several other mutual aide responders, handled a fatal structure fire in a nearby mobile home on Granite Street. In that incident, 48-year-old Todd Woods lost his life while his wife and son were able to escape without serious injuries. The cause of that fire was determined to be smoking materials used near medical oxygen equipment. Fire officials would like to warn people that medical oxygen can be extremely combustible and urge everyone to keep open flames and smoking materials away from any oxygen equipment in their homes.

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